What to expect from counselling

When you call or visit Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS), you can expect a professional, responsive, and respectful service. Our counsellors are experienced clinical or counselling psychologists and mental health social workers.

Our counsellors

As a service, we value diversity, and recognise that our clients come from diverse backgrounds including gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, spiritual beliefs, age, relationship status, socioeconomic status, geographical location, health or disability status, and educational experiences.

If you would feel more comfortable speaking with a male or female counsellor, or have particular preferences in your choice of counsellor, check out our staff page for more details. We will endeavour to place you with someone of your choice, although this may not always be possible.

It is important to know that all our counsellors are committed to respecting individual or group differences, and are experienced in working with a variety of people and presenting issues. Your counsellor may ask about how issues of diversity may be impacting your life and wellbeing in order to better understand you and your concerns.

What are counselling appointments like?

All counselling appointments are up to 50 minutes.

Initial appointment

Getting support at CAPS begins with an initial appointment. These can be booked on the day, or the next day. You will be asked to arrive 10 minutes before your appointment to complete a consent to treatment and questionnaires about your health and wellbeing. Please arrive on time. This will allow you to get the most out of your initial session. If you arrive late, you may be asked to reschedule.

Your first session with your counsellor will typically focus on identifying the primary reason(s) why you are seeking counselling, address any immediate concerns, and learn more about your support needs. Your counsellor will likely ask you questions that will help inform the most helpful next steps.

Next steps

Some people find that the initial session is sufficient for their current needs. For others, at the end of your initial appointment, you may be:

  • Referred to a relevant CAPS workshop or group program
  • Scheduled for a return appointment with a CAPS counsellor to continue short-term counselling
  • Recommended self-help resources including tip sheets, websites, online programs, apps, or guided exercises
  • Connected with other supports within the university (e.g., University Health Service, Campus Community, Student Equity and Disability Services, Safer Community Program, UMSU, GSA, etc.)
  • Referred to another professional or specialist service outside the university that may better suit your needs.

Return appointments

Following an initial session, some students and staff may schedule return appointments with their counsellor to continue short-term counselling.

Please arrive on time for your appointment. Arriving on time will allow you to get the most out of your appointment. If you arrive late, you may be asked to reschedule.

About short-term counselling

Every counsellor has their own individual style and different training experiences. Just as every person that comes to counselling is unique, no two counselling sessions are ever exactly the same. However, you can expect that:

  • You will have the opportunity to share your story, talk about the issues and concerns that have brought you to CAPS, and what you hope to gain from counselling
  • Your counsellor may conduct an assessment of any mental health symptoms, or ask you questions about your personal and psychological history
  • You and your counsellor will collaborate together on a set of goals to improve your wellbeing.

Short-term counselling typically focuses on your immediate needs, and working towards goals you and your counsellor have both agreed on. Sessions can involve:

  • Discussing issues or concerns currently affecting you
  • Learning new ways to problem-solve
  • Improving your coping skills
  • Building on your strengths
  • Regularly reviewing progress toward your goals.

How many counselling sessions will I have?

Your counsellor will work with you to determine the number and frequency of sessions you have together depending on your situation. CAPS primarily offers short-term counselling. These sessions are called return appointments.

Many students benefit from just one or two sessions of counselling, with the majority of students seen for four sessions or fewer. A small number of students may require up to six sessions.

Typically, appointments cannot be provided on a weekly basis. It's helpful to have appointments spaced apart to allow you to practise new strategies or ways of coping. Your counsellor can work with you on helpful ways to manage in between sessions.

Some students may need longer term treatment or more specialist assistance than can be provided at CAPS. In this situation, counsellors can help to connect you with a suitable private or community-based service provider.


Any information you provide at registration and what you talk about with your counsellor is confidential within the service. This means that everything you discuss with your counsellor is private.

We will not discuss your situation with anyone in or outside the university, unless we have your consent to do so. An exception to this can be when a counsellor has a duty of care to share information in an emergency to protect you or someone else from serious harm.

If you would like to know more, please read our privacy statement (PDF 183.8 KB).